Blanchard & Morgan Benefit Show - Robin Right Comes Out of Retirement!
Hank Williams, Jr. wrote and sang about it in a song called, "The Nashville Scene." From the outside it's a castle, from the inside it's a prison...I don't write this to judge the city, its music scene or those in it. You need to draw your own conclusions.
There's a lot to be said for a city with a wide musical history as Nashville's got to its credit. Bill Lloyd once told me there is much more than the Opry, and how true that is. That history goes far beyond.
The scene, however, regardless of the music played is one that often has its way with those who try to master it. Oftentimes it's through no fault of one's own. It's not unusual to have success, chart singles and fame, only in the end to find you're broke. Even if it didn't so much go wrong.
Such might be the case for a couple that so far has survived, but now face adverse circumstances.
Do the names Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan mean anything to you? Fans of traditional, or "old" country music will. A sense of humor is required: call their more popular work comedy records or novelty songs if you like. Jack and Misty scored 15 hit singles over the course of a relatively short recording career. Their biggest was the strange, yet cleverly written "Tennessee Bird Walk," which hit #1 on the country charts in both the US and Canada in 1970. In a (then) rare double, the song also made it to #23 on the American pop chart.
Other hits followed, "Humphrey the Camel," a Top 5 from the album Birds of a Feather. There were still more, "Somewhere in Virginia in the Rain," "Just One More Song," and their last, "I'm High on You," which peaked at #68 in 1976.
The couple recorded on a series of indie labels in the years that followed, including their own Velvet Saw Records. Other than rare occasion, though, you don't hear those songs anymore.
So where did they go? Now well past their performing years, Jack and Misty had retired to Florida, and planned to live quietly in a mobile home they rented...but a developer had other ideas.
Fans, friends and those who remember have taken up their cause, including one who might seem a far-flung source. Robin Right has never met Jack or Misty, but thanks to Facebook came to know them, and their situation.
Right also has a perspective on the financial matter. "Musicians and entertainers are talented artists," she says, "not talented financiers. They don't work for a company with health and retirement benefits. It is rare for them to properly prepare for retirement or have enough to get by when they do.
"Most all performers, whether they are famous or not, usually do not think about putting money aside (an IRA or Stocks) and then when the performances and royalties stop coming, they find themselves in financial difficulty."
A benefit show was the one thing Right knew she could do. I first met Robin in the late 80's when I DJ'd for a country station in the Boston area. Like Nashville is to country, Boston is seen as a rock town, but its love for the former is there. Places like the Blue Star Lounge are sadly no more, and in most cases replaced by flashier venues.
Back in the day there was an Independent Top 10 for country artists, through a publication one of the stations I worked for received. Robin scored a #1 on it with a song called "Rose Café."
Through a career that spanned four decades, the Kentucky native was a mainstay on the Boston country scene, but she also toured the US, Europe and Australia extensively. Right may be best remembered for her tribute show to Tammy Wynette. "Hard to Be a Woman."
The performing and touring life gets to everyone, eventually. "It wears you down," Right admitted. "The long flights, rehearsals as soon as you get there and the show the next day just got to be too much for me."
A more personal tragedy involved the death of her sister in 2011, and Right chose to retire. Three years away, Robin is reuniting most of her old band, and calling on her friends for one last show, on July 13th.
Among the special guests, Ghent is a native New Englander who came out of the Greenwich Village folk scene. His songs were recorded by Kris Kristofferson, Mama Cass Elliot, Rita Coolidge, Gene Watson and many others.
And for those whom this is for: Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan do have another place to stay, but apart from events such as the one Robin is putting on, their only sources of income are Social Security and dwindling royalties. Their music is still available: you can find what's on offer at www.jackandmisty.net
The doing of this show is anything but symbolic. Robin's gesture stands to remind us to think about those who came before us, and their contributions to the music we ourselves listen to, perform, and love. Behind the songs are the ones who created them; let's hope Jack and Misty know they're respected, and also not forgotten.